In today’s digital world, memory cards play an increasingly important role (beyond cluttering up our drawers and camera bags with each new generation of enabled device). While numerous shapes, sizes and formats have vied for the top spot, with proprietary professional formats dominating the highend of digital content production, most current consumer and “prosumer” digital media devices rely on secure digital (SD) media, in the form of standard, mini and micro form factors.
Standard SD cards are typically used in DSLRs and camcorders while MicroSD cards are popular in Smartphone and other mobile applications. The intermediate sized “mini” format is rarely used, by comparison. The mini and micro cards can be used in fullsized slots by way of an adaptor, providing added versatility.
Memory cards are also classified by storage size, with SD sizes topping out at 2GB.
Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) cards range from 4GB-32GB, while the largest cards, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), start at 64GB and can reportedly reach a theoretical limit of 2TB; although no commercial versions of this size are yet available.
Forward compatibility is nil, unfortunately, so your older camera may not accept the newer capacities (the card may physically fit, but your camera won’t access a full 64GB, for example), making “overbuying” easy to do; so consult your hardware documentation to ensure that you get the best memory for your particular device.
It’s not just a matter of size, however, but of speed, that must be considered.
It is also a vital concern when recording high bit-rate HD video streams, when huge amounts of digital data are being quickly hurled at your memory card.
This is where “class” comes into play.
SD memory card speed classes range from a slow Class 2, up to a speedy Class 10 — and beyond, to the even higher speed UHS 1 cards.
If you’re looking for increased performance from your current camera or other device then a quick and easy memory card upgrade may do the trick — and grab a spare in case of emergency, or heavy shooting.